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Mohs Surgery
General Risks
Listed below are some general risks associated with cutaneous surgery. Your doctor will discuss these and any additional potential problems associated specifically with your case.
  • Complete removal of the skin cancer may create a blemish larger than anticipated. Tumors may be larger than surface appearance indicates.
  • Scarring will occur at the site of removal. Although we make every effort to obtain optimal cosmetic appearance, our primary goal is to remove the entire tumor.
  • At times, despite our best efforts, healing is slow or the wound may reopen because of bleeding, poor overall physical condition, diabetes, smoking or other disease states.
  • Grafts and other repairs to the wound may fail to heal.
  • Patients may experience loss of movement or feeling because of impaired nerve function. (See section below)
  • Many tumors are near or on important structures such as the eyes, nose or lips. Portions of these structures may be removed with resulting cosmetic or functional deformities. The physicians will let you know if this is a possibility.
  • The wound may become infected. A small number of surgical wounds (less than 5%) may become infected and require antibiotic treatment. If you are at higher risk for infection, you may by given an antibiotic prior to surgery.
  • Some patients may experience an adverse reaction to medications used. We will carefully screen for any history of problems with medications, but new reactions to medications may occur.
  • In 1-3% of cases, the tumor may re-grow after surgery. Previously treated tumors and large, longstanding tumors have the greatest chance for recurrence.
Possible Numbness or Loss of Feeling
Skin cancer frequently involves nerves, so there may be a loss of movement or feeling. Frequently, the tumor invades nerve fibers that must be removed with the tumor. Also, nerves adjacent to the tumor may be severed or injured in the reconstruction of the defect.
If you experience numbness, sensation will usually, but not always, return. In most circumstances, nerve function will return over a prolonged period of time, up to 24 months. In some cases, numbness may be permanent.
If a motor nerve is involved, you may be unable to move the muscle. For example, you may be unable to wrinkle your forehead.
Prior to your surgery, your doctor will discuss any major nerves that may be near your tumor.